If you really want to know why it took so long, check out my profile. With that, on to the story!
For the first official week in my new job, I had had more than my fair share of work to do. Files were escorted to my desk with an eerie sense of clockwork. I was excited to be using so many different languages in such a short span of time. It helped me to get over the pull I was feeling for the field. Two weeks later, I realized it was all an illusion. I had been working mostly on backlogged intel. Now? Now I was ready to climb up a wall. Or ask Joan if she needed her files organized. I would even be willing to color code them by threat level.
Not long after I had started twirling around in my chair my phone buzzed with a text. I quickly pulled the phone from my pocket, almost knocking myself out of my chair in the process.
Need you in tech.
I almost launched myself from my chair.
I strolled into Auggie's office just in time to hear the large breath that he let out in exasperation. He ran his hands over his head, ruffling his hair, before pulling his headphones off and letting them drop to his shoulders. Then I heard the whispered swear word followed by his new agent's name.
"I bet right now you are realizing that I wasn't as bad at taking directions as you believed."
Auggie smiled and turned in the direction of my voice. "I'm ready to launch an internal investigation into the recruiting process and the training at The Farm."
"That bad?" I asked, referring to his new charge, Agent Sykes.
"Worse. You may have been inadvertently shot at on your first day, but this guy acts like he is trying to get shot on every mission. Half tempted to shoot him myself."
"Is that why you called me in here?" I smiled as I half sat on the corner of Auggie's desk. "Need help hiding the body?"
Auggie's smile wavered. "Agent Sykes managed a brush pass in Germany two days ago without getting himself shot. We had a new asset come forward two months ago. An American who has information on Igorek Novikov."
"The Russian arms dealer? How did that happen?"
Auggie picked up a file that had been sitting on his desk and handed it to me. "Apparently, our informant, Russel, went to go work at Anchova Tech when he was fresh out of college. Then Novikov decided to kill the ceo and make Anchova one of his fronts. He found out that Russel had minored in Propulsion Engineering while at MIT and decided to use that to his advantage." Anchova. The name sounded familiar.
"Russel started working for Novikov?" I looked at the intell that Auggie had just handed me, sad to find the small Russian dialect Trasianka among its writings. That was going to take a while to translate.
"More like Novikov threatened Russel. Told him he would kill his family if he didn't do what he was told." One of the oldest tricks in the book. Bad guys didn't have to think of new ways to coerce people into working for them because the old methods worked so well. I read through a couple of lines before a thought came to mind.
"Why is he reaching out to us now? Why after all this time?"
"Novikov killed his family. Well, part of them."Auggie frowned. "He thought Russel was starting to lose his nerve. All it did was make him angry and seek out to destroy him."
"Losing your family can make you think about life differently."Auggie and I sat for a few silent minutes before I broke the spell. "Is this all we have?" I flipped through the intell, only finding three papers.
"Yeah. Russel has guts getting this stuff from Novikov, but he is also afraid of getting to much too quickly. Doesn't want him getting even a hint of what he is up to and killing the rest of his family. He won't tell us where they are because he doesn't want word getting out that the CIA is watching his family. Guy isn't going to take any chances."
"Can't we just track them down?"
"Nope. Russel isn't his real name and even Sykes wasn't able to get a photo of him." Auggie rose from his chair, which put him close enough to smell his soap, and stretched. I couldn't help that I closed my eyes and let the smell wash over me. I hadn't gotten this good a whiff of the smell since that night Auggie held me as I cried myself to sleep. I needed to bring myself back to reality, so I stood as well, making sure to take a couple of steps back from the muscled blind man.
"I'll try and get these done before Chloe's appointment tonight. She made me promise that we would be home in time to get to the doctors ten minutes early." Auggie laughed out loud as he settled back into his chair, ready to get back to work. I opened the sliding glass door to Auggie's office and was halfway out when his voice called out to me.
"Hey, after Chloe is done at the doctor, why don't we take the girls out to eat at Miners? You could use a day off from cooking and the girls could use a treat." My smile widened and my cheeks started to hurt.
"Your treat." After sliding the door closed behind me, I took one step into the DPD's main floor before I noticed how silent it was. I looked up and noticed two groups of Agents who had obviously been working before something more interesting caught their attention. Namely me. Not one moment after I caught them watching, they attempted to make themselves look busy. Maybe Auggie should start that inquiry into The Farm. And they called themselves Agents.
"-And then when he took the cast off, he told me that he's never seen a cast taken care of so well. Then he gave me the pack of gum. He said that I earned it." Chloe grabbed one of her chicken nuggets and munched on it. "Aunt Annie didn't tell the story right." Auggie and I, sitting kitty corner from each other, both started laughing.
"Well, it's a good thing that you retold the story for us Chloe. Your Aunt left a lot out. She never was very good at getting information straight." Auggie bumped into my shoulder, making Chloe's eyes beam with mirth.
"Aunt Annie, can I go play in the Goldmine?" I turned my attention from Chloe to her sister, who had been quiet for most of dinner, and then looked to the children's play area she was pointing to.
"Yeah, sure." Katia got up from her seat and calmly walked away.
"Aunt Annie, can I go play too?" Chloe's loud voice surprised me. I smiled and nodded my assent before I turned my attention to Katia's plate. Her children's menu order had been nibbled at, but nothing more. I racked my memory to recall how much she had been eating lately.
"-the girls are gone and I'm not interesting anymore?"
"Wha-" I looked up and noticed the smile on Auggie's face. I swatted his arm playfully before deciding to have a little fun with him. "As a matter of fact, you just aren't keeping up your end of the conversation lately. I have had to start holding our conversations in my head. So much more interesting that way."
Auggie smiled. "Don't have the ear bud anymore but I'm still inside your head, huh?" We both started laughing as the waitress came to deliver our check.
"Here's your check. I'll be your cashier when you're ready." She placed the black book on our table followed by a couple of plastic cups that had goldmines for tops. "Here are the cups that came with your girls' orders. I have you say that you two have some of the cutest girls I have ever seen!" The waitress flounced off before Auggie or I could set her straight.
A strange flutter started in my chest. I looked at the girls as they played, Katia more soberly than her sister, and then looked at Auggie. I hadn't ever realized it before, but there was enough of a resemblance that I couldn't really blame the waitress for thinking that we were a family.
Auggie sat silent.
"Auggie? Are you okay?" I asked, still fighting the flutter in my chest.
"Do they really look that much like me?" He sounded like there was something boiling under the surface, ready to burst forth at any moment, held in place, but just barely.
"Yeah, a little. You know that they have dark brown hair. But they also have a little kids version of your nose." Auggie looked down at his plate and let out a small breath. "You know, Danielle said one time, after I had taken you home, that if she didn't know any better, she would have thought that you were Michael's brother instead of Robert. He has blond hair and his face is more round. More like his mom. You could definitely pass for the girls' father. For a couple more years at least."
Auggie ran his hands over his face a couple times before setting his eyes somewhere over my shoulder.
"That's that he told me in the letter. Well, one of the things." Chloe squealed in delight over in the play area and Auggie took a moment to listen to the children's laughter. "He said that in the time that we had spent together he had come to really respect me and see me as a friend. He knew that if anything were to happen to them that you would get the girls. He didn't want you to go through that alone. He knew that I would be there for you, but he also asked me to be there for the girls. Said that they were going to need someone to remind them of their father. To be that for them until their uncle was able to spend more time with them." Auggie's eyes were growing red and the tell tale signs of emotion were echoing through his voice. "I didn't realize what he meant till now. Annie, I could pass as their dad in looks, but I have never raised a kid before. Hell, I'm the youngest kid in my family, cousins included, and up until a month and a half ago I lived like a carefree bachelor. What if I let them down? Let Michael down?"
I reached out and placed my hand on Auggie's shoulder. So that was what had been bothering him all these weeks?
"Auggie. We couldn't have made it as far as we have if we didn't have you here with us. You keep me sane and you're the only one that has been able to get a laugh out of Katia."
"You make her laugh." Auggie protested.
"No, Auggie, I make her roll her eyes and smile when she thinks that I have messed something up. You make her laugh." I put my hands on either side of Auggie's face and moved it till he was facing my direction. "You are doing wonderful. Michael would be so thankful for what you have done for us."
Auggie was silent. Then a smile broke out over his face. "Thank you, Annie."
After the girls were tucked up in their beds, Auggie and I sat at the kitchen table, each of us with a small glass of wine, settling down from the long day we had had before heading off to our rooms for the night.
"Hmmm?" I was starting to lull and had been daydreaming.
"The week before the girls go to Moira's for spring break, I have somewhere that I need to go. Will you and the girls be alright without me?" I propped my head on my hand.
"Where are you going?"
"Just need to take care of something else for Michael." Again, my curiosity peaked. The other thing from the letter.
"Yeah. Yeah we should be good." Auggie finished his wine then stood and left the kitchen for the quest house with a quiet goodnight.
I took that as my cue and headed to my own room.
When Auggie had moved into the guest house, I moved into the house. As weird as it had seemed at the time, I had taken Danielle's and Michael's room, leaving most of my things in boxes until I could get all their things sorted and stored.
Sitting on the bedside table was one thing that I insisted on keeping out of my boxes of things. My letter from Danielle. I walked over to the bed and, sitting down, grabbed the worn letter in my hands. I didn't know why I had never opened it. It had sat amongst my things in the guest house until I moved into this room, where it then took residence leaning against the lamp. I fingered the edges, just like I did every night. Was tonight the night that I opened it? I still wasn't sure if I wanted to read what she had written.
I weighed the letter in my hand for several minutes before letting it drop back onto the bedside table.
No, tonight was not the night.
So, even though it was several weeks ago, I realized while watching the last episodes of CA that if I had just gotten my act together and beaten my muse into submission, then I could have predicted some of the things in the show with my story. Well, kinda. But I'm not going to tell what! Also, this chapter was shorter than I would have liked, but I just couldn't create a way to make it longer.
Also, we know part of what was in the letter. I hope that everyone had a happy holiday season.
Everyone who has reviewed or put me on their alerts holds a special place in my writers heart. I will make a huge batch of cookie and find some way to send them through the computer and into the hands of everyone. So, if you wan't more cookies when I finally invent a way to do this, review :)